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The University informed three students yesterday that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) may file lawsuits against them for illegally downloading copyrighted music online.

The University received notices from the RIAA on March 23, warning that it may file subpoenas to obtain the names attached to the IP addresses of three students who have engaged in illegal downloading, University communications director Lauren Robinson-Brown '85 confirmed. She declined, however, to name the students in question.

When the University's Office of Information Technology (OIT) receives notices from the RIAA that include the IP addresses of illegal downloaders, it sends out its own notices to the students connected to those IP addresses. The RIAA is not informed of those students' names, however, unless it files subpoenas requiring the University to reveal that information.

Robinson-Brown explained that the University will notify the three students if the RIAA files subpoenas to obtain their names and other relevant information.

Yesterday's email notices, sent by OIT senior policy adviser Rita Saltz, informed each of the three students that "an RIAA attorney is preparing to send the University an early settlement letter with the request that the University forward the letter to the individual who is associated with the computer that has been implicated in the alleged infringement."

If students who receive the letter agree to an early settlement, the RIAA will not file a subpoena to obtain their names, the email explained.

"When the RIAA sends these notices, sometimes they end up suing, and sometimes they don't," Robinson-Brown added. "We like to protect you all, even though you don't protect yourselves."

According to statistics provided by the RIAA, more than 70 percent of students at universities across the country who receive early settlement letters decline to settle through the RIAA's instant settlement website. Average settlements offered by the RIAA typically range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Yesterday's notices come in the wake of a round of warning letters that the RIAA sent last Wednesday to 405 students at 23 universities that did not include Princeton. The letters are part of a new initiative to deter illegal downloading on campuses across the nation.

In 2005, the RIAA filed copyright infringement lawsuits against 30 Princeton students for illegally downloading music online as part of a national campaign against the practice that included suits against hundreds of students nationwide.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright law intended to protect intellectual property rights extending to digital media files, compels the University to comply with subpoenas and other legal requests submitted by the RIAA in conjunction with accusations of illegal downloading.

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